2024’s Best Metro Areas for HVAC Technicians

An HVAC technician kneels next to and repairs a rooftop HVAC unit

The HVAC industry is heating up in parts of the U.S. while a shortage of technicians is cooling down others. 

So, which metro areas offer the best career opportunities for HVAC specialists?

To mark February as National Care About Your Indoor Air Month, HVAC Gnome ranked 2024’s Best Metro Areas for HVAC Technicians. 

We compared over 380 of the biggest U.S. metros based on 5 categories. We considered the number of HVAC employers and jobs, average hourly wages, and access to training programs, among 8 total metrics.

Explore our ranking below. To learn how we ranked the metros, see our methodology.



See how each metro fared in our ranking:

Top 5 Close Up

Check out the slideshow below for highlights on each of our top 5 metros.

An aerial view of the New York City skyline at daytime, with the Empire State Building in the center
No. 1: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA | Overall Score: 51.04

Projected Industry Growth in State (2020-2030): 11.27% | Rank: 175
Number of HVAC Employers: 7,892 | Rank: 1
Average Hourly Wage for HVAC Technicians: $35.01 | Rank: 7
Number of Local HVAC Training Programs: 14 | Rank: 5
Competitors (HVAC Technicians) per 10,000 Households: 26 | Rank: 176

Photo Credit: Roberto Vivancos / Pexels / Pexels License
Skyscrapers stand tall in contrast against the blue sky and ocean in Miami.
No. 2: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL | Overall Score: 46.66

Projected Industry Growth in State (2020-2030): 15.4% | Rank: 88 (tie)
Number of HVAC Employers: 2,469 | Rank: 4
HVAC Jobs per 1,000 Total Jobs: 4 | Rank: 67
Number of Local HVAC Training Programs: 32 | Rank: 1
Average Number of Extremely Hot Days: 73 | Rank: 87

Photo Credit: Tory Brown / Pexels / Pexels License
The skyline of Los Angeles behind the Griffith Observatory on an overcast day
No. 3: Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA | Overall Score: 43.71

Projected Industry Growth in State (2020-2030): 13.8% | Rank: 117 (tie)
Number of HVAC Employers: 3,576 | Rank: 2
Average Hourly Wage for HVAC Technicians: $33.02 | Rank: 19
Number of Local HVAC Training Programs: 20 | Rank: 2
Competitors (HVAC Technicians) per 10,000 Households: 24 | Rank: 127

Photo Credit: Roberto Nickson / Pexels / Pexels License
Two people bike along a riverside path across from Chicago’s skyline
No. 4: Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI | Overall Score: 42.68

Number of HVAC Employers: 3,133 | Rank: 3
Average Hourly Wage for HVAC Technicians: $31.47 | Rank: 28
Number of Local HVAC Training Programs: 16 | Rank: 4
Competitors (HVAC Technicians) per 10,000 Households: 21 | Rank: 79
Average Number of Extremely Cold Days: 127 | Rank: 102

Photo Credit: Chait Goli / Pexels / Pexels License
Streetlamps glow across the skyline of Phoenix at daybreak
No. 5: Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, AZ | Overall Score: 39.24

Projected Industry Growth in State (2020-2030): 30.6% | Rank: 14 (tie)
Number of HVAC Employers: 1,600 | Rank: 11
Average Hourly Wage for HVAC Technicians: $26.40 | Rank: 166
Number of Local HVAC Training Programs: 11 | Rank: 9
Average Number of Extremely Hot Days: 169 | Rank: 1

Photo Credit: Nader Abushhab / Unsplash / Unsplash License

The Upshot

Metros from disparate regions — such as New York (No. 1), Minneapolis (No. 7), and Anchorage, Alaska (No. 14) — land among the top 10 with the highest average hourly wages for HVAC technicians.

Chilly states like Alaska, Massachusetts, and Montana, finish in the top 100 of our ranking largely due to high Earning Potential and long periods of extreme weather, which can take a toll on HVAC systems. Metros in these states have average hourly wages above $25, with techs in Fairbanks, Alaska (No. 6), making over $36 on average. The national average was $27.95 at the time of writing, according to Indeed.

10 Florida, 6 Arizona, and 3 Nevada metros score in the top 100 due to numerous Job Opportunities. The HVAC industry is projected to grow between 15.4% and 30.6% in these warm-weather states by 2030.

Southeastern metros, particularly in West Virginia and Georgia, land at the bottom of our ranking with fewer Job Opportunities and low average wages. HVAC workers in Parkersburg-Vienna, West Virginia (No. 383), bring home the lowest average wage $18.51 per hour — in our ranking. 

Ask The Experts

Despite an ongoing worker shortage, the HVAC industry is experiencing faster-than-average growth.

We turned to a panel of experts to learn more about working as an HVAC tech and the current issues impacting the industry. Read their insights below.

  1. What is causing the ongoing HVAC technician shortage?
  2. What are 3 of the biggest challenges to working as an HVAC technician?
  3. For the HVAC industry overall, what are 3 of the biggest obstacles?
  4. How can local governments boost interest in HVAC training and careers?
  5. How does the HVAC technician shortage impact homeowners who are looking to schedule HVAC inspections and repairs, if at all?
Doug Zentz
Emeriti Professor, ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer
Gregory Poston
Paul Creacy, CSME
Interim Chair Dept. of Architecture, Aviation, and Automotive and Program Coordinator/Instructor of Building Trades; Air Conditioning Technology, Building Maintenance Technology, Electrical Applied Technology
Doug Zentz
Emeriti Professor, ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer
Ferris State University

What is causing the ongoing HVAC technician shortage?

The shortage of HVAC techs has been a long process of several changes over the past 35 years, and here is a short recap of these changes.

  • The HVAC industry has evolved greatly into a highly technical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) industry where technicians need these skills and knowledge to effectively excel in what they do. This wasn’t the case 35 years ago. Thus, young people entering the HVAC industry to become HVAC technicians need these skills and knowledge much more so than they did before — add the fact they also need DDC knowledge, which increases the STEM requirement.
  • At the high school level, vocational education was the starting point of HVAC education years ago. Sadly, in today’s world, the number of HVAC high school vocational education programs has been greatly reduced nationwide. In many high school vocational centers, the HVAC is about a one-week learning module of general home construction and/or build programs, and this means the teacher is not an HVAC person (leading to very little actual HVAC learning). This shift in HVAC opportunities to learn a highly STEM career pathway has been driven purely by dollars, as HVAC training labs are expensive to have and operate. I know in Michigan, more than 50% of high school programs that existed 20 years ago are no longer in operation.
  • The next level of HVAC education is within the community college HVAC programs — and again most of these programs are subject to financial challenges where they struggle to have all the resources they need to succeed. They usually have difficulty attracting STEM-level students, and, due to several reasons, most of the current programs no longer promote students staying with the education all the way to an associate degree. Most students are lured away after about two semesters by local residential contractors that need installers and simple home HVAC service technicians.
  • The HVAC industry gets a bad image in most local areas as the only time people usually talk about HVAC is when it is not working well. Plus, most parents of teenagers do not have positive images of what they perceive of an HVAC technician (their image is that of an old-fashioned plumber with overalls), and they do not understand that HVAC is a STEM industry where good HVAC people make six figures a year (income). This problem is why the above three items are a big challenge.

What are three of the biggest challenges to working as an HVAC technician?

HVAC Technicians have many challenges, and I would say the biggest three would be:

1. Staying abreast of all changes in the HVAC industry with equipment, controls, refrigerant, local codes, and growing energy demands.

2. Misapplied HVAC equipment used in many buildings (oversized, improperly zoned, badly controlled, etc.)

3. Uneducated building owners who do not value properly maintained HVAC systems, so the only time technicians show up is when HVAC Systems/Equipment fails to operate.

What are three of the biggest obstacles for the HVAC industry overall?

My opinion of the biggest challenges in the HVAC industry would be:

1. Most people have no idea why HVAC is absolutely the most important element of any building, and most buildings have HVAC system issues. Most buildings were built with a fixed construction budget and when the first cost for construction is an issue, HVAC is one of the first areas where cutting corners are made to save money on the first cost budget.

2. HVAC equipment manufacturers over the years have been cost-cutting their equipment to the point where having an equipment safety factor is no longer a high desire, and this leads to higher equipment failure rates. This also leads to higher operational costs as equipment efficiency drops quickly with usage.

3. As the world begins to learn about “decarbonization” and how buildings are connected to this global issue, people will learn that buildings will need to be almost a ZERO annual energy consumption entity of the future, and HVAC is the biggest element of this energy challenge. Thus, the HVAC industry will become one of the highest-income career pathways for young people entering the workforce around the world (supply and demand challenges).

How can local governments boost interest in HVAC training and careers?

Local government needs to understand a few things so their decisions of where to spend money are smart choices, and the items to understand include:

  • The average person spends most of their life inside of a building. Do a simple exercise of creating a spreadsheet illustrating a typical week in your life with seven columns for seven days, along with rows to illustrate 30-minute chunks of time for each day. Then, fill in all the cells where you spend time in a building (home, work, restaurants, doctor’s office, shopping, etc.). If you are honest and typical of most people, you will find that you spend a large percentage of your life inside of a building.
    • Once you understand this, the next thing is to understand what expectations would you have of the environment where you spend most of your life. Do you expect it to be safe, clean, healthy, properly ventilated with clean air, properly controlled moisture (not humid or arid), and are the elements in the space temperature controlled so you are not affected by cold/hot spots within your environment?
    • Within the HVAC industry, we expect people to understand, but from my experience, I have found the opposite — most people are clueless. So, if government people are supposed to be typical, they most likely have no clue here and need to learn, and this would drive their decisions differently.
  • Local governments drive funding for schools, so the above now connects back to what is listed above with challenges. Local governments should now drive education toward STEM careers and HVAC would be very high on this list.
  • Local governments are responsible for local code adoption, and approving higher standards of healthy, smart, and highly efficient buildings which would drive higher skill and/or paid workers providing higher levels of living for members of the local communities where HVAC technicians are a key element of this happening. Thus, approving incentives for “green” buildings would be a strong step in this process.

How does the HVAC technician shortage impact homeowners who are looking to schedule HVAC inspections and repairs, if at all?

The shortage of properly trained (educated) HVAC Technicians (and HVAC companies) is a real issue for most local communities for the following reasons:

The world of HVAC, construction, and building management and/or operation is really changing.

The biggest building management companies in North America are now focusing on how their buildings can become low in annual carbon emissions as the world shifts to “decarbonization.” I cannot stress enough how important this topic will become in the future (short and long-term).

Since buildings represent 40% of our nation’s carbon emissions to the environment and HVAC is about 50% of the building-related emissions, HVAC is roughly 20% of the U.S.’s carbon emissions toward climate change. This reason alone is the biggest reason for highly trained folks in the HVAC Industry.

Gregory Poston
Texas State Technical College Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)

What is causing the ongoing HVAC technician shortage?

Because the construction industry faces a shortage of qualified workers, HVAC technicians are in high demand. One of the causes for the HVAC technician shortage is the emerging technology coming online in the industry that is being manifest in energy-efficient systems, and that causes a need for continual technical training of both current and new HVAC professionals.

Another big reason for the shortage of technicians is the aging workforce of HVAC technicians, which means that there are more jobs available for those people willing to take a chance on a career in HVAC technology.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a 5% increase in openings for HVAC mechanics and installers between 2021 and 2031 — which is on par with the average growth rate for all occupations nationwide.

What are three of the biggest obstacles for the HVAC industry overall?

1. The high attrition rate, due to aging and retirement, of skilled HVAC technicians.

2. Keeping up with the advanced education and state-of-the-art training needed to tackle the emerging technologies of new and more efficient HVAC equipment.

3. An increasing demand for climate-controlled homes and commercial facilities.

4. BONUS: To keep up with the rapid increase in technical advancements, the HVAC industry must partner with technical schools in an effort to properly train future technicians.

What are three of the biggest challenges to working as an HVAC technician/contractor?

1. Finding the time to take advanced education and train to meet the changing technology.

2. High cost of insurance, materials, vehicles, and — if you’re an HVAC contractor — paying higher salaries.

3. Competing with technicians who are freelancing and not properly licensed.

How can local governments boost interest in HVAC training and careers?

It’s not incumbent upon local governments to boost interest in HVAC training and careers. It’s the responsibility of educators at high schools, technical schools, community colleges and the HVAC industry to explain the potential benefits of being an HVAC technician.

That includes being a skilled professional in a high-demand job, with the potential to make a lucrative salary and possibly have his or her own business.

How does the HVAC technician shortage impact homeowners who are looking to schedule HVAC inspections and repairs, if at all?

As the saying goes, “time is money.” The HVAC technician shortage impacts a homeowner’s time and budget. With fewer technicians, it takes longer for an HVAC inspection or repair. The higher demand can drive up the cost of the services.

Additional Information:

According to ACHR News, there’s currently a shortage of 110,000 HVAC technicians, with about 25,000 technicians leaving the industry each year.

For a contractor, this could equate to a potential revenue loss of $250,000, according to Ray Lewis, vice president of human resources, residential HVAC supply, at Trane Technologies. He recently said that, as a result, efforts in both “R’s” — recruitment and retention — have to be continuous and evolving.

Paul Creacy, CSME
Interim Chair Dept. of Architecture, Aviation, and Automotive and Program Coordinator/Instructor of Building Trades; Air Conditioning Technology, Building Maintenance Technology, Electrical Applied Technology
Del Mar College, Dept. of Architecture, Aviation, and Automotive

What is causing the ongoing HVAC technician shortage?

The shortage of technicians across all industrial occupations is largely a result of experienced technicians reaching retirement age. For every five technicians who retire, only two new technicians enter the industry.

This trend has created a high demand for skilled professionals in the HVAC industry. We are actively engaged in recruitment efforts to attract new technicians and provide them with the necessary support to succeed in this field.

What are three of the biggest challenges to working as an HVAC technician?

Working as an HVAC technician presents several significant challenges. Among the most prominent are:

1. Technical complexities. The constant evolution of HVAC systems introduces technical intricacies that require technicians to stay abreast of the latest advancements. Continuous learning is essential to ensure proficiency in servicing modern HVAC systems.

2. Customer interactions. Effective communication and strong interpersonal skills are imperative when interacting with customers. HVAC technicians often encounter clients who are dissatisfied due to system malfunctions or unexpected repair costs. Handling such situations with professionalism and empathy is crucial.

3. Physical demands. The nature of HVAC work can be physically demanding. Technicians may need to navigate tight spaces, such as crawlspaces or attics, and endure uncomfortable temperatures, particularly during the peak demand periods, such as the hot summer months in South Texas. Adaptability and physical resilience are essential qualities for success in this aspect of the industry.

What are three of the biggest obstacles for the HVAC industry overall?

1. Staffing and technician shortages. Finding skilled technicians capable of effectively performing HVAC tasks is a major challenge. The industry is experiencing a shortage of qualified professionals, which hinders its ability to meet growing demands.

2. Rising manufacturing and installation costs. As HVAC systems become more complex, the cost of equipment and installation is increasing. This trend is driven by the need for more advanced technologies and techniques, which can be expensive to manufacture and implement.

3. Increasing government regulations. The HVAC industry must continually adapt to changes in building codes, environmental regulations, and energy standards. Staying compliant with these regulations can be challenging and costly, requiring companies to invest in new technologies and practices.

How can local governments boost interest in HVAC training and careers?

1. Partnerships with schools. Collaborate with schools to introduce HVAC education and training programs to the community. This can include offering workshops, career fairs, and internships to expose students to the field.

2. Promotion of job opportunities. Work with local businesses and industry associations to promote the job opportunities available in the HVAC field, highlighting the potential for career growth and advancement.

3. Public awareness campaigns. Highlight the importance of HVAC professionals in maintaining indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and overall comfort. This can help change perceptions about the HVAC industry and make it a more attractive career option.

How does the HVAC technician shortage impact homeowners who are looking to schedule HVAC inspections and repairs, if at all?

The shortage of HVAC technicians and the resulting high demand in the industry can have several impacts on homeowners seeking HVAC inspections and repairs.

  • Primarily, it can lead to higher costs for services and longer wait times to schedule appointments.
  • The limited availability of technicians may result in increased competition for their services, potentially driving up prices.
  • Additionally, longer wait times for service and repairs can inconvenience homeowners, especially during extreme weather conditions when HVAC systems are crucial for comfort and safety.

Behind the Ranking

First, we determined the factors (metrics) that are most relevant to rank the Best Metro Areas for HVAC Technicians. We then assigned a weight to each factor based on its importance and grouped those factors into 5 categories: Job Opportunities, Earning Potential, Training Availability, Competition, and Demand. The categories, factors, and their weights are listed in the table below.

For each of the 394 biggest U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (or simply “metros”), we then gathered data on each factor from the sources listed below the table. We eliminated 11 metros lacking sufficient data in a single category, resulting in a final sample size of 383 metros.

Finally, we calculated scores (out of 100 points) for each metro to determine its rank in each factor, each category, and overall. A metro’s Overall Score is the average of its scores across all factors and categories. The highest Overall Score ranked “Best” (No. 1) and the lowest “Worst” (No. 383).

Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be No. 383 due to ties.

Sources: CareerOneStop, Census Business Builder, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Projections Central, and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Final Thoughts: Industry Outlook

The U.S. has been struggling to recover from a widespread skilled labor shortage since 2020. Meanwhile, demand grows for the HVAC industry with an average of 37,700 projected HVAC job openings each year between 2022 and 2032.

With net-zero emissions goals on the horizon — meaning stricter HVAC standards and efficiency requirements — many companies and residences will be upgrading their HVAC systems to comply, creating an even greater need for HVAC workers.

The stress of heatwaves and record temperatures will only further exacerbate HVAC systems and the need for HVAC technicians to repair and replace them.

The average HVAC pro is reaching retirement age in the coming decade. Luckily, interest in trade careers is growing. Community colleges with vocational programs saw an enrollment increase of 16% in the fall 2023 semester. 

Increased interest and access to HVAC apprenticeships, free training programs, and even virtual reality HVAC training are aimed at advancing the industry as demand continues to grow. 

What is HVAC Gnome? For heating, ventilation, and air conditioning inspections, installations, and repairs, HVAC Gnome connects you to the best HVAC professionals in your area.

HVAC Gnome is part of the Home Gnome family of home services sites.

Media Resources

  • Utah’s HVAC industry has the highest projected growth rate of 46.2% between 2020 and 2030. So, if you’re looking for a career with a bright future, head west. 
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Georgia (No. 19), stands far ahead of the 14 other Peach State metros in our ranking thanks to abundant employers, training programs, and larger average wages.
  • Expensive metros like San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California (No. 8), and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California (No. 31), boast the highest average hourly wages$42.79 and $38.61, respectively. However, fewer job opportunities are available for HVAC workers — possibly due to the balmy year-round weather and high office vacancy rates.
  • In Texas, the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (No. 12) and Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington (No. 13) metros lead the other Texas Triangle metros — San Antonio-New Braunfels (No. 105) and Austin-Round Rock (No. 116) — due to higher average wages, more HVAC employers, and numerous local training programs.

High-resolution images of cities

Main Photo Credit: José Andrés Pacheco Cortes / Pexels / Pexels License

Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate from the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.